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First Day of Hanukkah in Australia

Many Jewish communities in Australia observe the first day of Hanukkah, which marks the start of Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah or Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish observance that remembers the Jewish people's struggle for religious freedom.

Is First Day of Hanukkah a Public Holiday?

First Day of Hanukkah is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Hanukkah is a time for gift-giving.


What Do People Do?

Many Jewish Australians start observing Hanukkah on the evening before on the first day of Hanukkah, as many Jewish observances begin at sunset on the day before. The first day of Hanukkah is marked as the 25th day of the month of Kislev in the Jewish calendar. The Hanukkah period lasts for 8 days up until the second day of the month of Tevet.

Hanukkah (or Chanukah) often starts with special blessings at sunset the day before the 25th of Kislev. Many Jewish people light the hanukiah (or chanukkiyah), which is a type of candelabrum. Some state governments, such as the New South Wales government, have issued public statements to people celebrating Hanukkah, reminding them to be aware of fire hazards associated with Hanukkah, particularly with regard to using oil and lighting candles.

Hanukkah is a festive period for Jewish communities throughout Australia. Events involving meals, socializing, and games are held in venues such as parks and beaches. Meals that are offered during these events are often foods fried in olive oil, such as potato cakes, and different fried breads. It is also a time for gift-giving so some people order gift baskets to give to others. Hanukkah card games, board games and books are sold in Australia. A toy known as the dreidel is widely popular among both children and adults during Hanukkah.

Public Life

The first day of Hanukkah is not a nationwide public holiday in Australia. Many Jewish schools have their school vacation fall around the same time of Hanukkah.


Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish people’s successful rebellion against the Syrians in the Maccabean War in 162 BCE. A ritual cleansing and re-dedication of the Temple occurred after the Jewish people’s victory. It is believed that there was only enough consecrated oil to keep the lamp burning for one day but the small bottle of oil miraculously lasted for eight days. Hanukkah, also known as Chanukah, is referred as the Feast of Lights or Festival of Lights for this reason.

Moreover, the survival of Judaism over the many years is also celebrated during this period. The last day of Hanukkah, which marks the end of Hanukkah, falls on the eighth day of this period.


The dreidel is a toy that is popular during the Hanukkah celebrations. It is a spinning top with a different Hebrew letter inscribed in each of its four sides – the four letters form an acronym meaning “a great miracle happened here”. The hanukiah (or chanukkiyah) is a type of candelabrum that holds eight candles to commemorate the eight days that the oil burned and a ninth candle that sits apart, known as the shamash, or servant candle that lights the others. One candle is lit on the first night, another on the second, and so forth until all candles are lit on the last night.

About First Day of Hanukkah in other countries

Read more about First Day of Hanukkah.

First Day of Hanukkah Observances

Note: Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010ThuDec 2First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2011WedDec 21First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2012SunDec 9First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2013ThuNov 28First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2014WedDec 17First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2015MonDec 7First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2016SunDec 25First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2017WedDec 13First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2018MonDec 3First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2019MonDec 23First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 
2020FriDec 11First Day of HanukkahJewish holiday 

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